Helping my dad cope with mental health

Barked By Guest Barker | 14th December 2017

Helping my dad cope with mental health

Paws up if you’ve cheered your mum and dad up when they are feeling a bit low or sad! Yes me too. How can the pawrents not feel better when they have us doggies to cuddle and beautiful faces to gaze at!  But sometimes humans get really, really down and develop a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. My name’s Molly and this is my story of how I was rescued but also went on to ‘rescue’ my dad.

It was back in November 2013 that I had a visitor, a tall man with a very hairy beard but a friendly face who seemed very interested in me. This was very strange but also exciting as I didn’t normally receive visitors!

My visitor and my ‘keeper’ took me for a walk across the nearby fields. How I loved running free sniffing out crows, rabbits and those noisy pheasants – such a relief from days on end in my shed that was my home.

Later that day my visitor returned with the same friendly smile and lead me to his car. After a short journey we arrived at what was to be my new home in a small country village. No shed for me now – I had a large garden and I was allowed inside the house! I even had my own bed and toys; wow, my tail started to wag like never before.

We would go out for daily walks and have cuddles on the sofa. I was given some yummy food but best of all I had a warm and caring home of my own with my new Dad.

Late one night I was woken by the ‘bearded one’ (Dad – you guessed!) behaving a little strangely. He would turn the television off and stare into space and tears would roll down his face. I thought nothing of it at first, but it then started to happen each night? One night I built up the courage to walk up to the ‘bearded one’ and rest my head on his knee. I think he liked this because although he kept crying he did have a smile on his face, which made me happy.

The next day I woke up to a huge cuddle and a smiling ‘bearded one’. I wasn’t sure what was going on but it felt good to me, even if his beard was more bristly than mine!

Occasionally when out on a walk around the village we would stop and the ‘bearded one’ would stand and talk to other people. After a couple of minutes ‘that look’, the same one that he sometimes had at night returned. Remembering Dad’s reaction on his face when I put my head on his knee, I nudged his leg with my nose. The ‘bearded one’ looked down at me and he was smiling again. Ah, I thought, perhaps my attention makes Dad happy, something I will have to remember! One thing that I could never work out was that with every walk we would stop more often and speak to the same and other people. It was almost like we were making new friends all the time, although I do remember the ‘bearded one’ once saying to a neighbour that he had lived in the same house for over 20 years and had never spoken to so many people in the village since I arrived!

After a few weeks in my new home I had some visitors who for some reason seemed very excited to see me. They gave me a ball to play with. I knew what this was as in my old home I had seen my ‘keeper’s’ children playing with one – now I had one, all to myself! How lucky was I!

My new visitors became regular visitors and were always just as pleased to see me as the first time. During one visit after they had worn me out from all that running around chasing the ball, I lay on my bed and noticed that everyone had smiles on their faces. They also started to hug each other just like I was hugged by the ‘bearded one’ weeks earlier.

Following one visit the ‘bearded one’ told me that I was the reason the visitors came to our house, and that they hadn’t visited him for many years. Apparently they had seen a post from the ‘bearded one’ on something called Facebook, a photo of me sitting with my head on the knee of the ‘bearded one’, us both smiling.

Dad and I have set up a Facebook page called Dogs Help Mental Health Sufferers (DHMHS) to help promote the benefits of dog companionship to those who suffer from mental health issues.  Do pop over and say Hi – we would love to hear from you.

Woofs Molly

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